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Friday Night Fever

Hit the L.I.E. secure in the knowledge that you've got an edge in the fast-moving shell game of the latest and the greatest on the South Fork. Where to eat (Henry's in Bridgehampton), what to drink (Peconika vodka), how to sleep (in a quilted birth at the Southampton Inn), and just who's giving those Lyme-disease shots.


Most things out on the South Fork are pretty much the way you left them last Labor Day -- that is, if you discount the scores of raw neo-old mansions now blocking yesterday's views. Route 27 remains a cruel joke, as do real-estate and restaurant prices. There are still the extraordinary beaches, the hallucinatory light, the vestiges of true rural charm. But every spring, there appears a flotilla of sparkling-new restaurants, stores, clubs, and inns where the chic restaurants, stores, clubs, and inns of yore docked previously. Discovering them is, for the most part, a welcome distraction. As are new home renters and owners Katie Couric, Helmut Lang, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, and Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, all attempting to assimilate into the increasingly fragile egosystem.

Before planting even one Clergerie sandal on the Jitney, eligible candidates ages 15 to 70 are asking their doctors to order LYMErix, the brand-new vaccine against Lyme disease. The first two injections are given a month apart; the third comes a year later, when immunity is 79 percent complete. The trio (including the actual doctor visits) can run you as much as $250, and for about two days after each injection, it will feel as though a deer nipped your biceps. But it's better than having to wear socks with your flip-flops when you step outside to snip the price tag off that new Japanese zelkova tree.

If you're not vacationing with your usual hive of staff, check out the Website, which is offering unlimited concierge service for the season to the first 100 people who sign up; the fee is $1,000. Specific jobs cost $75, and tips and favors cost a minimum of $7.50 for every ten minutes spent catering to your whims. Hamptons Survival Guide author and publisher Philip Keith says he will find you a maid, order the salmon, deliver the champagne, and "get you into the best events and book you into the hottest restaurants." It may not be as flashy as having live-in help, but remember, a virtual butler can never write a tell-all book about you.

The Website is also hoping to click with the prosperous populace by offering some similar shopping services. Author Steven Gaines, who has partnered up with Hamptons Online owner Robert Florio (no relation to the Condé Nast Florios), is betting that those who liked his best-seller Philistines at the Hedgerow will want to read more of the same in his regular columns, which promise to be a cross between Matt Drudge and Samuel Pepys. Not in place yet are beach and traffic cams that promise real-time footage of the suntanned and the stalled. Rona Jaffe will be advising e-mailers on "noisy neighbors and wandering husbands," she says, and there will be tips on hot for-sale properties.

One of the conveniences of the soon-to-be refurbished Inn at Quogue is that the Jitney stops at the front door (47-52 Quogue Street; 516-653-6560). Disembark here, even if you aren't an overnight guest, as Alison Becker Hurt has opened a restaurant inside. Based on her track record (Alison on Dominick in the city, Alison by the Beach in Sagaponack), Alison in the Inn at Quogue (52 Quogue Street; 516-653-6800) will surely be double-parked with youngish big wheels dining out on American country bistro or a separate menu in the bar. The 70-room inn is being renovated by Scott Sanders, a consultant for Ralph Lauren, with the brand-new rooms (starting at $300 a night in the Main House and $200 in the outbuildings) being allowed to rejoin the rest of the flock as they are finished. Landscape credit will go to Mecox Gardens, the Ralph Lauren of South Fork shrubbery.

They're not going for the Instant English Ancestor look at the Atlantic; the boutique motel is more Jetsons than Masterpiece Theatre and will open for business on July 1 where the Sandpiper Resort once stood (1655 County Road 39; 516-287-0908). What the answering-machine message describes as "a utopia-lifestyle inn" is restaurateur Jeff Salaway's latest acquisition; Salaway already owns Nick & Toni's in East Hampton and on the Upper West Side and also runs the new Colina near Union Square. Salaway and his two partners are filling the rooms on this four-and-a-half-acre property with custom-made stainless-steel-and-white-maple furniture. A large pool and two tennis courts are other inn rarities that you'll spring for: $220 to $290 per weekend night and $140 to $210 weeknights. Salaway seems well on his way to becoming the Ian Schrager of Suffolk County; he's keeping his eye out for other local lodgings.

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